Social media for engagement ? Not followers
There seems to be much confusion between online marketers around social media and its benefits. Not only do people set ineffective goals, but their strategy is focused on tactics which will take real benefits away from a business.
Of course no business intentionally starts a social media presence to spend lots of resources for little gain, but at the same time it’s easy to get side-tracked by focusing on metrics that aren’t important, or aren’t helping your business by providing a return. We see this occurring in every industry without fail, whenever you see a competition running ‘like to enter’, ‘follow for a chance of winning’… are these strategic plans to increase visibility? Or are they simply a way of getting more followers because they think that’s what it’s all about?
Don’t get us wrong, there will always be advantages to gain by running competitions in return for followers of your social profiles. However there is a time and a place for this, and at TonerGiant we’ve learnt that lesson the hard way.
If you’re in a profit making business, there will always be top level goals that you want to achieve from social media, and these are generally:
- Stronger branding
- Increase visibility
- Communicate with customers
- Communicate with potential customers
- SEO value
The difficulty of reaching these goals comes from one single word… interest. Being in the ink and toner industry, interest is certainly the biggest pitfall we’ve had to overcome. You might ask “but how do you make toner cartridges interesting to everyone?” the answer is… you can’t, It’s an impossible task.
Our strategy started like most other companies, to create an audience by gaining as many followers as we could as quickly as possible. So we ran competitions for Xboxes and various other high value toys, for a while this worked really well for us and we had great engagement. But when the time came to try converting our followers into customers by generating interest in our brand, products activities etc, the engagement rate was minimal. The lesson we learnt from this was… If you ask people to follow you for a competition, that’s what they are interested in.
After evaluating the social following we created, it became apparent that we had missed probably the most important marketing factor (target audience). People who want to win competitions will definitely help you to grow your following but aren’t necessarily your target audience. So for us, it was time to create a new strategy for genuine social media success.
Our new strategy
The new strategy that we chose to adopt was high quality, genuinely interesting, industry related content to appeal directly to our target audience. The process of changing strategy from competitions to content was very slow, but once we had the ball rolling the rest took care of itself.
For a start we stopped all competitions and replaced it with blogging. The most important part of a healthy social profile is marketing interesting blog content. How we made content interesting is by tying our topic of ink and toner into other industries such as design, photography and printing. We then spent time on marketing this content to the people who were interested, mainly businesses in design, photography or printing - simple.
This increased the engagement of our content; people are liking and sharing our content to other people that are also interested in the same topics. It opened the doors to businesses with related interests in printing that we could guest blog for, giving positive repercussions in SEO.
Slowly but surely we started to see more engagement with businesses and people from our target audience interacting with us, which spreads much more effectively and naturally.
We don’t deny that competitions will always have their place in social media, but if this is your sole strategy - think about this… it could dig a deep hole in your pocket and at the end you will be left with a large following that aren’t that interested in your brand or subject. Fortunately, at TonerGiant we have managed to overcome this with the great content we produce and by relating our subject to other industries.